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Specialist leisure magazine publisher Future has reported a 37 per cent year-on-year surge in digital revenues - and a 48 per cent increase in the UK alone - due in part to the group's successful launch on Apple Newsstand.

The group said in its half-year results this morning that sales on the Newsstand platform had passed the £3 million mark since its launch last October, and are running at about £500,000 a month.

Digital magazine sales increased about five fold from 35,000 to 194,000 in the past year - and Future's digital subscriber base has grown from 50,000 to 175,000.

However, the group also issued a warning today about digital piracy - which it said was "a growing problem as tablet sales grow".

The rapid evolution of the tablet - spearheaded by Apple's iPad - is creating an entirely new market for digital products. Importantly, it is one in which consumers are prepared to pay for content.Mark Wood, Future chief executive
Future said it had sold more than 830,000 copies on the Newsstand and that 45 per cent of sales were subscriptions. Some 80 per cent of buyers were outside the UK and close to 90 per cent of subscribers are new customers.

Future chief executive Mark Wood said: "The rapid evolution of the tablet - spearheaded by Apple's iPad - is creating an entirely new market for digital products. Importantly, it is one in which consumers are prepared to pay for content."

The group said it was working with other tablet platform producers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble in the US.

In its half-year results, Future said digital now accounted for 16 per cent of total revenue - approximately £9.6 million in the six months to the end of March.

Digital advertising accounted for 44 per cent of total advertising revenue and was up 17 per cent year on year - offsetting an eight per cent decline in print advertising income.

The number of unique users accessing the group's websites reached 35 million in the year to the end of March, up from 25 million over the same period last year. The group claims more than two million Facebook followers for its brands, which it said was double the combined level for the whole of the mainstream UK daily press.

Print magazine sales in the six months to the end of March have declined from 2.6 million a month to 2.2 million and print advertising revenues have fallen by 10 per cent year on year.

Wood said in today's results announcement: "After a period of restructuring and refocusing, we are now seeing Future begin to generate significant revenues from new digital products and activities."

He added: "Future is seizing the opportunities offered by new platforms and channels to reach new audiences and grow a global digital business.

"On Apple's iPad, Future is one of the world's leading digital publishers in sales volumes and number of titles. That is a sign of how far we have come in a very short time.

"Future has shown it can adapt quickly to the changing ways consumers access content and can seize the opportunities opened up by new digital channels and platforms to reach new audiences. We are changing the publishing model and evolving a truly global business."

Future said it was leading a number of anti-piracy initiatives and had "achieved good success in take-down of unauthorised copies of our magazines".

The company has also applied for patent protection for its FutureFolio software - which it is licensing to other publishers to produce interactive tablet editions, but the group said in its results today that this was a "crowded technology market" and similar technology may be developed by third parties.

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